Car Accidents in Scottsdale

Car Accident Injuries and Compensation

Car accidents occur for many reasons: driver error, negligence, manufacturing defects and dangerous weather. No matter what the specific cause or result of the car accident, speaking with an experienced personal injury and wrongful death lawyer can help you sort out your rights, your options and your future. We help drivers and passengers injured in car accidents recover damages from the party or parties who caused the accident.

"Damages" means money, and the money is paid to the victims to compensate them for their physical injuries, such as broken bones, spinal cord injuries and head injuries; and also for their physical pain and their mental and emotional suffering.

This is often referred to as "pain and suffering".

Damages may also be sought to pay for the victim's medical bills that arose directly after and because of the car accident, in addition to reasonable future medical bills. If the victim requires rehabilitative services or accommodations, such as physical therapy or a ramp leading to the home, these costs may be recovered. The car accident victim may also recover lost wages (past and future) and property damages for personal property damaged or destroyed in the incident.

In addition to the obvious cuts, broken bones and other physical injuries, crash victims often suffer intangible injuries, such as emotional suffering and what is called the "loss of enjoyment of life." Then there are the more severe injuries, such as permanent impairment of physical or mental functions, paralysis, and disfigurement and scarring. If the injured person was already suffering from a previous injury, the question becomes whether, and to what extent, the car accident may have aggravated or worsened the victim's existing injury, and the new injury can be treated as a separate matter from the underlying injury. When the victim is married, his or her spouse can sometimes bring a claim for damages for their "loss of consortium," which is the negative effect the accident has had on the marital relationship, including such things as the loss of the injured spouse's companionship, comfort, assistance, sexual relations and love and affection.

The monetary "value" of any of the above damages will depend on many factors, including whether the condition(s) suffered are temporary or permanent.

At-Fault, Negligent and Aggressive Drivers

Driver negligence is much more common than you may realize. All it takes is a split-second lack of attention. That distraction might be as innocent as talking to a passenger, attending to an infant or child passenger, changing a CD or radio station, eating or texting on a cell phone; or it may be as obviously negligent as applying make-up in the rearview mirror. Any one of these is enough to prevent a driver from being able to react in a normally-quick manner to changing traffic conditions such as sudden braking in stop-and-go traffic, objects, people or animals in the road, and so on. More serious and obvious negligence occurs when traffic or criminal laws are actually violated: disobeying traffic signs and signals, failing to signal while turning or changing lanes, driving above or even well below the posted speed limit, disregarding the weather or traffic conditions, and driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or a combination of the two.

You may have a sense of who caused a car accident; but a determination of "legal fault" can be surprisingly complicated and involve questions about who acted when, which laws governed the situation, witness recollections and the like. Even if the driver of the other car was clearly negligent, you must still prove that his negligence caused your damages. Police and car accident reports, including witness statements and photos can help; but even then, many car and auto insurance companies will contest what appears to be clear liability and force you to "prove it."

Actions, on the part of either driver, that may have contributed to the car accident include:

  • Driving through a stop sign or red light
  • Driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
  • Failing to drive in a manner that is safe for current conditions
  • Driving faster or slower than speed limit
  • Driver using a cell phone, toying with the radio, or otherwise distracted
  • Disobeying traffic laws

In some cases, a driver may not simply be negligent; some drivers can be reckless and even intentionally dangerous, consciously disregarding the potential consequences of their actions. A common example of this kind of behavior is road rage, which can potentially escalate to intentionally dangerous activity. Road rage in particular can be extremely dangerous, leading to injuries and criminal charges.

Clearly, aggressive drivers are a serious threat to the safety of all the other drivers around them; and if they cause a wreck, their liability is usually apparent. The difficulty lies in identifying them, then hoping they have insurance coverage!

"How Much Is My Car Accident Claim Worth?"

The value of your claim depends on factors too numerous to list here, but here are a few of the most obvious factors: Arizona traffic laws; the nature, extent and permanency of the victim's physical injuries, scarring, burns and disfigurement; the duration of hospitalization; the extent of his lost wages and earnings; the victim's mental and emotional injuries; the total medical expenses including ambulance, hospital, doctor and physical therapy bills; and the victim's own negligence, if any.

This last factor is referred to in Arizona as "comparative fault." It is similar to "contributory negligence." As you can see, the process involved in calculating personal injury damages can be very complex, which is why in any auto accident claim involving serious injuries, victims should always consult with an experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney who can be a strong ally in planning their case, assessing damages, and bringing a claim or lawsuit against the party responsible.

Car Insurance -- Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Coverage

In most cases, car accident victims are paid by the other driver's auto liability insurance company. This is true whether they settle their claim out of court or go through a jury trial in court. But what happens if the other driver has no auto liability insurance (uninsured motorist coverage) or has an auto liability policy that is simply not enough to cover the total damages suffered by the victim (underinsured motorist coverage)?

In either situation, the car accident victim must pursue other means of recovery, usually through his or her own auto insurance company. If the accident victim's auto insurance policy includes uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, then he is very fortunate and may bring a claim "against" his own insurance company to pay the amount of our claim that was not covered by the adverse driver's insurance. After all, this is one of the major reasons we purchase car insurance – to protect ourselves and our families if we are injured by a driver who has little or no auto liability insurance. To recover benefits under an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy, the victim typically will need to show that the other motorist was at fault. The victim will also need to prove that his or her bodily injuries were significant. To collect benefits under an underinsured motorist policy, the victim will need to collect as much as possible from the at-fault driver's insurance company first.

(NOTE: Cases involving UM/UIM claims can get very complicated very quickly and should only be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney.)

Similarly, there might be insurance coverage available through policies owned by the victim's employer, spouse or other family member. Obviously, the extent of any of these "other sources" of insurance will depend on the specific limits of coverage, the language of the policies themselves, and how much insurance, if any, has already been recovered from the adverse insurance company.

Car Insurance

It is most often the case that car accident victims who recover in court or via a settlement are paid by the other driver’s insurance company. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, however, the car accident victim must pursue other means of recovery.

The car insurance policy of the victim may have an uninsured-motorist or underinsured-motorist provision that will compensate the victim. Other types of car insurance policies, available through the victim’s spouse or employer, may also provide benefits. How significant a benefit and whether it is available depends, of course, on the specifics of the policy itself.

Qualified Car Accident Lawyer in Scottsdale

The Watkin Law Office, PC has successfully handled numerous auto accident injury and wrongful death cases for our clients. If you or a loved one has suffered serious personal injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by the other driver's negligence, whether in the greater Scottsdale, Arizona area or anywhere else in Arizona, we would like to hear from you.

Contact us online or call 480-347-9804 to arrange a free, confidential consultation. When results matter, choose The Watkin Law Office, PC.

Clark Watkin of The Watkin Law Office, PC is a Scottsdale personal injury and wrongful death attorney who represents serious personal injury and wrongful death clients throughout Arizona, including Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Cave Creek, Carefree, Fountain Hills and Paradise Valley.

IMPORTANT: If an insurance claims agent for the person at fault calls to "interview" you, decline -- at least until you have spoken with an attorney. Despite what the insurance agent might tell you, he is NOT "just trying to help."

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